Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Harry Potter and Religion

By Monica Leonard

In his article Constructing a Distinct Other, Harry potter and the Enchantment of the Future, Pierre Wiktorin suggests that consumer identity is not limited to merely items , “You could … consider yourself a Gryffindor … if you happen to be a member of those Harry potter related groups, or fandoms, that flourish on the internet. ”(2). The enchanting wizarding world of Harry Potter then becomes a place to escape from the everyday. Ironically, it is within this constructed world of Harry Potter , where J.K. Rowling makes a commentary on our own world and how it is constructed (Wiktorin 3).

In the case of Harry Potter, Wiktorin argues that by using the supernatural in her books Rowling constructs two binaries for religion (within an educational framework). Of course these binaries are of a certain bias within the book; in favour of causality ‘scientific’ orientation to the world, not performative ‘religious’ orientation (Wiktorin 14). He parallels this with four characters. Hermione Granger and Dumbledore represent causality based orientation, and are constructed favourably in the books (Wiktorin 8). While, Professor Sybil Trelawney and Lord Voldemort who are of a performative based orientation, are viewed unfavourably (Wiktorin 8- 13). Furthermore, Wiktorin concludes that the Harry Potter books are written in favour of certain causality based religions(14). Therefore, religions that place emphasis on rationality are favoured, as opposed to traditional, or experiential/emotional religions (Bouma 86 ).

I argue, however, that there are certain religions that have more elements than just rationality. In fact limiting his religious analysis of magical learning in Harry Potter to just two binaries is perhaps a mistake. There are characters in the Harry Potter series, which do not completely fit under either of the two binaries. Harry Potter, for example has powers which he has inherited from Voldemort, as well as the magical powers which he has learnt by rote. Wiktorin’s article paints a fair analysis of the Harry Potter series as a reflection of our world. However, there is always more than just two points of view, or two binary positions. It is perhaps by exploring the liminal space between binaries, that Wiktorin could form a more holistic analysis of religion and the Harry Potter series.

Works Cited

Bouma, Gary. Australian Soul. Melbourne: Cambridge P, 2006.

Wiktorin, Pierre. Constructing a Distinct Other, Harry Potter and the Enchantment of the Future. 17 May 2007 Anpere. 30 Jul. 2010. .

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